Evanston Hockey offers boys and girls from ages 3-18 in the Chicago area the chance to play competitive hockey at house, travel and high school levels

HS Tryouts Registration Now Open – Register Today
by posted 06/24/2021

The Evanston Wildkits have announced that registration for high school tryouts is now open for the 2021-22 season – with some exciting changes coming that will help make this season the best yet for our high school athletes. We encourage all interested families to register early with the first deadline approaching on July 12. Read on to learn more and register here.

Five Reasons to Register Today

1. Simplified Registration Process: It’s easier than ever to register. Evanston HS Hockey is launching a streamlined registration process with our new partner, Sprocket Sports. There is a one-time, non-refundable $250 tryouts registration payment made at the time of registration. This fee will cover costs associated with high school conditioning and tryout skates. Tryouts registration will remain open through the last day of HS tryouts.

2. Be Counted: By registering early, players will help Evanston HS Hockey determine total player and team counts to better plan for ice and coaching needs for the 2021-22 season. 

3. Pick Your Number: Every Evanston Wildkits high school player must purchase a uniform package for the 2021-22 season. Uniforms are purchased as part of the tryouts registration process – and the sooner you register for tryouts, the better the chances of receiving a player’s top choice for jersey number.

4. Start the Season in New Sweaters: When you register by the first registration deadline (July 12), uniforms will arrive in time for the fall season. Uniform packages ordered by July 12 will be handed out all at once. There will be another opportunity to order the uniform package during the week of tryouts but we do not guarantee that jerseys ordered during that week will arrive before the first game.

5. One Less Thing to Worry About: Hockey conditioning starts the same week as the first week of school – always a busy time of year. Give yourself one less thing to think about by registering for HS hockey tryouts TODAY.

Other Reminders

  • The HS tryouts registration system is currently in a beta phase; in the fall, the entire evanstonhockey.com website will be moved to Sprocket Sports. As a result:
    • Both sites – the HS tryouts registration and evanstonhockey.com – are still active until the full transition.
    • You must create a new account on Sprocket Sports. Follow directions on the site; account and registration information from past high school programs will not transfer over automatically.
  • HS tryout registration is not complete until the uniform package is purchased. Learn more about our new uniforms here.
    • If your player wasn’t able to attend any of the in-person sizing days, our uniform vendor has provided jersey dimensions that are available on the vendor website.
    • The initial order of jerseys has been placed; we will be placing a second order during the week of tryouts; as a reminder, jerseys ordered during the week of tryouts will not be guaranteed to arrive before the first game.
  • Other required high school uniform items are:
    • Navy helmet and navy gloves (any brand)
    • Custom Evanston Hockey pant shells (available for purchase at Play It Again Sports in Evanston)
    • Custom Evanston Hockey track suit jacket; more info will be shared at a later date
  • We’re pleased to share there will not be a fee increase for the 2021-22 high school season, and discounts will be in effect for goalies and players who are eligible to double-roster (play on a high school team and a youth or girls team). High School hockey fees for the 2021-22 season are as follows:
    • Girls Varsity: $3,500
    • Junior Varsity: $5,230
    • Varsity: $5,595
  • Evanston HS Hockey offers financial aid for those who qualify. Please contact to learn more. The Evanston High School Hockey Finance Committee will consider all requests.
  • HS summer skates continue through Aug. 6. More info on skates and off-ice conditioning here.
  • Save the Dates: High school pre-season conditioning sessions and tryouts begin the week of Aug. 15. Girls Varsity practices will start Aug. 21 and JV/Varsity practices begin Aug. 25. These dates are being shared for planning purposes and as a courtesy; they are subject to change. We’ll share exact info as it’s confirmed in the summer.
  • Other questions? Email




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Evanston High School Hockey’s New Look
by posted 06/07/2021

If they play as well as they look, the Evanston Wildkits high school teams will have a great 2021-2022 season.

The Wildkits are getting a new wardrobe for the 2021-2022 season, their first uniform change in a decade—and just in time for the club’s 55th anniversary.

Something Old, Something New

The new jersey designs include something old—diagonal retro EVANSTON lettering on their away jerseys—and something new—a slick grey alternate jersey, and an “E” logo on their home jerseys that aligns with the one on the rink at the new Robert Crown Center.  The home and away jerseys are pro-stock with embroidery and stitching while the alternate/spring jerseys will be sublimated.

Players will wear the alternate jersey occasionally during the regular season and during the entire spring season. The new jerseys will also distinguish high school players within the broader Evanston Hockey program.

Families will purchase the jerseys so players can keep their number during their high school playing days and keep the jerseys even after they graduate. High school board member Mark Hansen deserves a big shout-out for leading the successful and time-consuming process to pick a jersey supplier, Hockey Militia, and to design the jerseys. The design process included input from about 115 members of the Wildkits high school community who shared their feedback through a recent survey. Thank you to all the players, families and coaches who participated.

Next Steps

To ensure the new jerseys arrive on time for the fall season, Evanston High School Hockey (EHSH) will open fall tryout registration in the next few weeks. In addition to signing up for tryouts, families will be able to order and pay for jerseys. The jerseys will belong to the players and will not be returned at the end of each season.

To make sure the new jerseys fit properly, players should try them on during the first week of the EHSH summer program. There will be two sizing opportunities at Robert Crown:
•    June 14 from 7:30-8:30pm CT when JV/Varsity has its first skate
•    June 16 from 6:00-8:00pm CT when both Girls Varsity and JV/Varsity have skates.

At that time, players will also indicate their number preferences; we will confirm their number back to them ahead of jerseys being ordered.

Reminder! If your player has outgrown equipment and you are looking to replace helmets or gloves over the summer, please remember that NAVY helmets and gloves are required for high school hockey. All high school players must also have custom Evanston Hockey pant shells that can be purchased at Play It Again Sports in Evanston. If you already own pant shells, no need to buy new ones—the new jerseys will match the team’s current shells.


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Moving On: Congratulations to our Seniors
by posted 05/31/2021


They’ll always be Wildkits, but some of the newest Evanston High School Hockey alums will soon also be Badgers, Beavers, Catamounts and Demon Deacons.

After graduating from Evanston Township High School, 15 hockey players in the Class of 2021 head off at the end of the summer to their freshman year in college. Ten are attending schools in the Midwest, with others heading as far east as Burlington, Vt., and as far west as San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Ten of the 15 members of the class graduated from ETHS with distinction, high distinction or highest distinction, recognized for a weight GPA of 3.5 or higher. Five graduates were recognized as members of the National Honor Society, a national organization that honors students for scholarship, leadership, service and character.

Congrats to the Class of 2021 and good luck next year! Here’s where you will find them:

Player  School                                                                                              Major/focus of study
Aidan Barker University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.                            Marketing
Bradley Bellios          California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.    Biology
Will Bodine                Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis.                                          Business
Liam Braasch            Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.                                            Sports media
Owen DeStefano       University of Denver, Denver                                                           Business
Margot Durston        North Park University, Chicago                                                      Undecided
Peter Gallun             Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.                                 Economics
Dash Hovland           Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minn.                                        Psychology & Social Work
Molly Jo Krupkin    University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.                                            Undecided
Sofia Lydon               University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.                                      Undecided
Jennifer Maguire     University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign                                        Kinesiology
Sergio Martinez       Illinois State University, Normal, Ill.                                                Business
Patrick Moffitt         University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.                                          Undecided
Wesley Stukenberg  Oakton Community College, Des Plaines, Ill.                                Business
Campbell Wagener  University of Denver, Denver                                                          Engineering
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Evanston Hockey Marathon: Save the Date
by posted 05/31/2021

More than 200 players participated in the 2019 Evanston Hockey Marathon. Orange rallied at the end, but Blue hung on for the win, 190-188.

After a hiatus in 2020, the Evanston Hockey Marathon is a go this year!

Mark your calendars: The third annual 24-hour hockey marathon will run from 6 p.m. Fri., Aug. 27 to 6 p.m. Sat., Aug 28. As usual, youth and adult players are invited to participate in the charity event at the Robert Crown Center. More than 200 players aged 5 to 58 skated in the 2019 marathon.

Stay tuned for more details. If you would like to volunteer for the marathon, please email Alby Gallun at .


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High School: Register Now for Summer HS Hockey Skates
by posted 05/17/2021

EHSH Announces Summer Skates Registration, Off-Ice Strength Camp & Fall Tryout Dates 

Evanston High School Hockey (EHSH) is pleased to share information about summer on-ice opportunities along with off-ice conditioning and preliminary fall tryout dates.

“Summer is the ideal time to build on the skills developed during the regular season and to keep conditioned throughout the summer months,” said EHSH Director Del Morris. “Our summer high school program is designed to give players the extra edge ahead of fall tryouts. I encourage all high school players to participate in on-ice and off-ice opportunities.”

Summer HS Drop-In Skates

Registration for EHSH’s summer program is now open. The eight-week program, which runs from June 14 to Aug. 6, includes skills and intra-squad games for eligible Evanston high school players. Here are the details:

•    Girls Varsity players (rising 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders; attends a high school that combines specifically for girls hockey)
•    Varsity/JV players (rising 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders at Evanston Township High School)

•    June 14-Aug. 6
•    Varsity/JV: Mondays: 8:30-9:30 pm; Wednesdays: 8:10-9:10 pm [1 hour each]
•    Girls Varsity: Wednesdays: 6:30-8 pm [1.5 hours]

•    Robert Crown Center

•    Girls Varsity: $180 for all 8 sessions or $120 for 4 sessions [sessions are 1.5 hours each]
•    Varsity/JV: $240 for all 16 sessions or $160 for 8 sessions that can be used throughout the summer on any day [sessions are 1 hour each]

To register for the summer program, please click here.

Summer HS Off-Ice Conditioning

Evanston Township High School offers affordable and flexible off-ice conditioning sessions for current and incoming students through its summer athletic camps. Specifically, HS Hockey Director Del Morris is encouraging all high school players to take advantage of the high school’s programming and sign up for at least one session of the ETHS Strength Camp to help prepare for the fall season. All ETHS students are eligible to sign up for the camp.

“The ETHS Strength Camps are the perfect complement to the summer workout schedules I will be providing players in the coming weeks,” Morris said. “My summer workouts can be done individually at home while players can sign up as teammates to attend the Strength Camps at ETHS. It’s a great opportunity that I encourage all high school players to sign up for.”

Find ETHS Strength Camp info by clicking here.

Save the Dates: Preliminary pre-season conditioning, tryouts & evaluations and practices

Looking ahead to the 2021-22 season, here are some dates to put on your calendar. High school pre-season conditioning sessions begin Aug. 15. JV/Varsity tryouts and Girls Varsity evaluations begin Aug. 22. High school practices will start Aug. 29, after teams have been selected.

These dates are being shared for planning purposes and as a courtesy; they are subject to change. We’ll share exact info as it’s confirmed in the summer.

Questions? Contact

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Morris receives AHAI Coach of the Year honors
by posted 04/12/2021

After a hockey season that tested every coach in new and unexpected ways, Del Morris aced the test, winning the girls high school hockey coach of the year award from AHAI.

Morris, Evanston High School Hockey’s director, received the honor after his first season as the program’s Girls Varsity coach. He was one of five coaches in different categories recognized by AHAI, the Amateur Hockey Association Illinois.

"In an especially challenging season, the role of coach was more important than ever,” AHAI said in its April 7 announcement. “The 2021 recipients of AHAI's Coach of the Year Award embodied good sportsmanship and respect toward teams, parents and officials while providing a positive experience for their players."

Morris is a USA Hockey Level 5 certified coach with 20 years of overall coaching experience, and at least 15 years with the Evanston Hockey organization. He has coached every level from 8U through DIII women’s hockey and was previously named the Illinois High School Hockey League (IHSHL) Varsity coach of the year and a Chicago Blackhawks coach of the month.

“Coach of the Year means a lot for me this year,” Morris said. “The girls worked hard to improve every practice in a year where we didn’t know if the practice we were having would be our last.  Beyond their hard work and effort they still found time to have fun and love the game and their teammates.  The girls in my eyes were the team of the year—their love for playing and having fun reminded me why I love this game.  I owe the Coach of the Year award to every girl I had the privilege of coaching this season.”

Girls Varsity Manager Joe Maguire, who nominated Morris for the award, said he created “a good team environment despite the pandemic.

“He kept the girls engaged when games were not allowed,” Maguire said. “Once games started, his leadership and encouragement to do their best really helped the team perform at a different level.”

Morris played for the Evanston Wildkits youth program until 14U and was a goalie for the Park Ridge Express, Notre Dame High School and Evanston High School Hockey Varsity team. After high school, he played for the New Mexico Ice Breakers and continues to play in men’s leagues. Off the ice, he is a paraprofessional, photographer and personal trainer.

“Del always had a positive attitude despite the challenging year,” said Girls Varsity Captain Jennifer Maguire. “He always pushed everyone to do their best, while making sure we all had fun. The whole team really appreciated Del's efforts to make this season as normal and fun as possible.”

Congratulations to Coach Del for always representing Evanston High School Hockey so well -- we are fortunate to have him and all of our coaches as part of the Wildkits family.

AHAI is the governing body of Illinois amateur hockey. It is the fifth largest American amateur ice hockey association, and consists of more than 2,500 member teams from youth through adult teams throughout Illinois.

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Evanston HS Hockey players honored for individual achievement
by posted 04/11/2021


Overtime goals. Acrobatic saves. Tenacious board battles. Crafty passing. Strong leadership.

Members of all three Evanston High School Hockey teams distinguished themselves in a multitude of ways on both ends of the ice during the 2020-2021 season. Congratulations to the following players recognized by their coaches with awards for individual achievement:

Girls Varsity
Most Improved: Hadassah Bernstein
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Bradley Bellios
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Molly Daniel
Captain & Alternates: Jennifer Maguire, Emma Barker and Molly Jo Krupkin
Coaches Award: Amelia LaPata

“This year was difficult to give out awards, as we had a complete team and everyone knew they had a role to play and everyone bought into their role and excelled and exceeded expectations,” said Head Coach Del Morris. “The seniors leaving their high-school playing days behind have set the bar high. I could not be happier with the imprint they are leaving on the Evanston High School Hockey Girls program.  I look forward to the rising players stepping in their shoes and raising the bar even higher.”

Junior Varsity
Most Improved: Caleb Gerstein
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Liam Braasch
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Sean Kennedy
Coaches Award: Wesley Stukenberg

The coronavirus pandemic made for an unusual season, but it helped the JV in one important way, said Head Coach Joe Heaton. 

“I’ve never seen high school players so excited to come to practice!” said Coach Joe. “It was a season marked by consistent progress both individually and as a group. The improvement across the board, from August to March, was impressive. I am very proud of the boys for all the effort this year.”

Most Improved: Rajko Marich
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Campbell Wagener
Most Valuable Defensive Player: Patrick Moffitt
Captain & Alternates: Campbell Wagener, Patrick Moffitt and Peter Gallun
Coaches Award: Peter Gallun and Sergio Martinez

Campbell Wagener, a senior defenseman, also received the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award on the Varsity’s Senior Night in March. In its 21st year, the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award is Evanston Hockey’s highest honor and recognizes the Wildkits senior who best exemplifies the virtues of the organization.

Varsity peaked at the right time, during its league playoffs in mid-March. Seeded #6, the Kits knocked off #3 New Trier White in double overtime and #2 Lake Forest in a shootout, ultimately falling to #1 New Trier Blue in the finals. 

“Coming up just short of a championship, the boys displayed their collective mettle in trying and complicated circumstances,” said Varsity Head Coach Christian Grunnah. “Even without a consistent schedule, they found a reason to compete and put their full efforts into each game this season. I am proud of our accomplishments, congratulate the seniors and look forward to further development next season.”

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Celebrating Our Seniors; Al Tisdahl Award Winner Announced
by posted 03/18/2021


Evanston High School Hockey held its annual Senior Night celebrations recently, honoring its graduating Wildkits and recognizing one in particular, Campbell Wagener, who received the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award.

Ten seniors on the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams had a moment on the ice with their parents, coaches and teammates between games versus Oak Park River Forest at the Robert Crown Center on March 13. The Girls Varsity team held its celebration on March 17, ahead of its game against Warren.

Many of seniors have been with Evanston Hockey since they were Mites, growing up through its house and travel programs.

That includes Wagener, the Varsity captain and recipient of the Tisdahl Award. In its 21st year, the Tisdahl Award is Evanston High School Hockey’s highest honor and recognizes the Wildkit senior who best exemplifies the virtues of the organization. It was created in memory of Al Tisdahl, who passed away in 2000, and who was beloved during his long tenure as president of Evanston Hockey.

“It means the world to me,” Wagener said. “I couldn’t have achieved it without all the coaches who have had my back since day one. Joe Heaton really got me started and headed in the right direction as a Mite and Peewee. I’m lucky to have played for coaches like Dave Crews, Ray Ewing, Jimmy Kahn, Christian Grunnah and the most impactful on my game and life, Del Morris. My teammates have also played a major role in my growth as a player and person. I am proud to be a part of this group—and proud to be a Wildkit for life.”

Wagener “has the full package on and off the ice,” said Morris, EHSH director and assistant varsity coach.

“Campbell has been a pleasure to coach throughout the years,” he said. “He is kind and respectful but also fierce and tough. He is the type of player anyone wishes they can play with at the same time being a competitor’s worst nightmare.”

EHSH celebrates 15 Wildkits from the Class of 2021:

Aidan Barker
Bradley Bellios
Will Bodine
Liam Braasch
Owen DeStefano
Margot Durston
Peter Gallun
Dash Hovland
Molly Krupkin
Sofia Lydon
Jennifer Maguire
Sergio Martinez
Patrick Moffitt
Wesley Stukenberg
Campbell Wagener

“It has been a pleasure to see this group grow up both on and off the ice,” Morris said. “I’m proud of all of them and look forward to see all they accomplish in college and beyond. I know they will represent Evanston High School Hockey and the Evanston community well.”

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How to build a positive team culture
by posted 01/26/2021

Evanston High School Hockey coaches spend a lot of time and effort trying to make their players better. On a Saturday afternoon in December, they spent an hour and a half discussing ways to make themselves better.

The coaches met over Zoom with two instructors from the Positive Coaching Alliance in the non-profit’s second and final workshop of the season for EHSH. In a wide-ranging conversation, they shared ideas on how to build a positive team culture and how to avoid the pitfalls that can undermine it. They exchanged pro tips on practice plans, team mottos and the use of “non-traditional stats,” like blocked shots, to recognize the contributions of all players, not just the goal scorers.

Founded in 1998, the PCA offers training and other resources for coaches, players and parents. The objective: to help youth sports clubs build a positive culture within their organizations. Though its name and mission may convey an “everyone gets a trophy” message to some, PCA trainer Andy Shriver told the Evanston coaches that positive coaching is not about “sunshine, unicorns and rainbows.”

“That’s not it at all,” said Shriver, who played Division III hockey and has coached youth and high school hockey and soccer, among other sports. It’s about “creating the atmosphere that supports the best positive performance.”

Winning is one goal—a big one—but so is teaching life lessons and building character. They are not mutually exclusive: The best coaches find the right balance between the two, Shriver said.

Coaches discussed what coaches inspired them as players and how they want to be remembered by their players.

“I’m inspired by the guys I coach with,” said JV Assistant Coach Dave Crews. “These guys keep pushing me to be a better coach and a better role model.”

How coaches handle mistakes by players can make a big difference in a player’s development and a team’s success, Shriver said. Mistakes are a key part of learning and shouldn’t be something to fear, he said. The coaches discussed “mistake rituals,” ways teams create their own language to acknowledge a mistake and move on. A ritual could be as simple as saying “flush it” to a teammate who commits a turnover that leads to a goal.  

Shriver and his partner leading the PCA workshop, Maureen Sanderson, also pressed coaches to think about their team’s culture and how to improve it. Sanderson, a former college lacrosse player who has coached soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse, asks her own players at the beginning of the season what they liked about their last team—or didn’t like. And she asked coaches to think about what an outside observer would notice about their teams away from the rink. Are they cliquey, or inclusive?

In the end, however, the primary determining factor in a team’s culture is the example set by its coach, Shriver said.

“Every moment when  you are on stage, whether it’s behind the bench or at the concession stand, the way you conduct yourself is really what your team’s culture is,” he said.

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Evanston Hockey launches diversity and inclusion initiative
by posted 01/06/2021

In June, after the tragic death of George Floyd and the numerous protests that followed, Evanston Hockey committed to begin a conversation about the role it could play in promoting diversity and inclusion, both in Evanston and within the broader hockey community. As upsetting as they were, the events of the summer presented an opportunity to explore ways to change minds, set the right example and open doors for young people with limited access to sports.

Fulfilling those objectives won’t happen overnight, but a process is underway to set us on the path. Over the past few months, a committee of board members and current and former Evanston Hockey parents has been working to create a framework for a robust diversity and inclusion initiative—a small, but important role we can play to advance the change our country needs.

As a first step, the committee has drafted a Diversity and Inclusion mission statement for Evanston Hockey:

At Evanston Hockey, we believe our program should reflect the diversity of the community we call home.  As such, we are committed to creating opportunities for players not traditionally represented in the sport of hockey.

The Evanston Hockey organization and community will also continue to provide support for all players and families within our organization as well as through advocacy at higher levels.
To fulfill that mission, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee is exploring options for our coaches and board members to participate in diversity training. If Evanston Hockey is going to build a culture that fully supports members regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, the change must begin with its leaders.

With a new state-of-the-art facility, Evanston Hockey also has a rare opportunity to increase the diversity of its teams by bringing in new members of the community. Evanston is a diverse place, one reason many of us live here. And competitive sports, and the important lessons they teach, offer the potential to transform young lives, one reason many parents sign up their kids to play hockey. But not enough people of color play the sport, in Evanston or anywhere else.

Evanston Hockey can play a role in solving this problem—and is possibly the best-positioned to do so of any Chicago-area youth hockey program. Devising and implementing the solutions will take time and hard work, but the D&I Committee is determined to find some.

One option under consideration: Creating a ball hockey, or street hockey, program with the City of Evanston. The program would expose more Evanston kids to hockey without the complications of skates and ice, offering a stepping stone to the sport. The inspiration for the idea? A street-hockey program in Harlem schools launched by the National Hockey League and New York Rangers.

Evanston Hockey is not alone in its commitment to promote diversity and inclusion in our sport. The NHL has shown its commitment to the cause through Hockey is For Everyone, a program the league founded in 1995 to provide hockey opportunities for underrepresented, underprivileged and disadvantaged youth. The program has since expanded its mission to celebrate and support players and fans of every race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, whether they’re on the ice, in the stands or in the locker room.  Evanston Hockey is one of a handful of organizations nationwide to be a member club with the NHL’s Hockey is For Everyone program.

The D&I Committee, which includes members of the Evanston Junior Wildkits, the Evanston Youth Hockey Association and Evanston High School Hockey, has only begun its work, so you can expect more news about its plans in the future. Six volunteers currently serve on the panel:

Tom Arend  
Brad Dunlap  
Lane Howard
Justin Neal  
Althea Ricketts
Lindley Wisnewski
If you’re interested in getting involved in Evanston Hockey’s D&I efforts, please contact Lane Howard ( ) or Brad Dunlap ( ).

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Wagener excels on rinks and the links
by posted 11/22/2020


Whether he’s holding his Bauer Nexus 2N Pro or his Titleist driver, Campbell Wagener finds a way to make the puck or ball go where it’s supposed to.

The Evanston Township High School senior found a way on Oct. 12, when he competed in the Illinois high-school state golf sectionals at the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club in Hoffman Estates. Finishing 13th, Wagener scored low enough to qualify for his second trip to the state tournament, had there been one. But because the Illinois High School Association canceled all state finals due to the coronavirus, his season ended at sectionals.

With 36 strokes, Wagener led the field through the first nine holes, unbothered by the windy and wet weather. He had a tougher time when the sun came out for the back nine, finishing in an eight-way tie at 79.

“I feel like I did the best I could,” Wagener said.

Wagener also has made good things happen in his four years on the Evanston varsity hockey team. The right-handed defenseman was selected to the Illinois All-State Team last year and was also invited to attend the USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase Team Illinois tryouts.

Wagener is exploring opportunities to play golf in college, most likely at the Division III level. While acknowledging that it’s harder to make the jump to college hockey—many aspiring college players spend at least a year in juniors first—he wants to keep playing and would be happy to join a club team.

“If I end up somewhere and there’s a chance to play hockey, obviously I’d do it,” he said.

He’s itching to play more before he graduates from high school. But he’s being patient.

“I just miss the competition,” Wagener said. But “I feel like we should just be safe, especially with the way everything is trending right now.”

If there’s any silver lining to the season so far, it’s that the team’s trimmed-down schedule gave Wagener more time to focus on his golf game this fall. He’s pleased with his progress, saying he has become a more consistent player, “able to put a full round together.”

“I didn’t hit the ball and farther or have any better putts,” he said. “I think I just had a better mental game.”

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Coaching workshops go far beyond skills and drills
by posted 11/22/2020


A lot of hockey coaches can teach the double deke, but how many know how to develop a Triple-Impact Competitor?

That was the purpose of an August virtual workshop attended by Evanston High School Hockey’s (EHSH) coaching staff. Led by three instructors for the Positive Coaching Alliance, the session explored what it takes to help high-school athletes become Triple-Impact Competitors, or players who work on improving three things: themselves, their teammates and their sport.

EHSH coaches participated in the Zoom workshop as part of the high school program’s continuing partnership with the PCA. Advised by luminaries including Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr and Brandi Chastain, the PCA, a non-profit founded in 1998, aims to build a positive sports culture at youth clubs around the country. The organization’s workshops, led by experienced coaches, are central to the organization’s mission.

“It really does focus on how to get the most out of an athlete and understanding that the mental part of an athlete is just as important as the physical aspect,” says EHSH Director Del Morris. “It’s a good reminder for coaches to not just focus on the physical.”

So what is a Triple-Impact Competitor anyway? A player who makes oneself better by being hungry for feedback, putting in maximum effort and taking care of his or her body. A player who makes teammates better by lifting them up, prioritizing team success and managing conflict. And a player who honors the game by respecting coaches, teammates, officials and the rules. For more information on what it takes to become one, click here.

In one key way, being forced to conduct the August workshop via Zoom made it better: Three instructors were able to participate, versus one for a typical in-person clinic.

“I thought it was probably one of the best ones we’ve done, mainly because there were three coaches piggybacking off of each other,” said Coach Del, assistant coach of the EHSH varsity and head coach of the girls varsity team. “We got three different perspectives all on the same topic.”

The PCA will hold its second and final workshop of the season for Evanston high school coaches in mid-December. For more information about the PCA and to find resources for your player and families, visit the PCA website.

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Meet Coach Janelle Adomeit, girls varsity assistant
by posted 09/21/2020

Coach Janelle then and now.

After playing for the Blades, Golden Beavers and Huskies, Janelle Adomeit is a Wildkit now.

Janelle is settling in as assistant coach for the Evanston girls varsity team, her most recent stop in a hockey journey that has taken her from Beloit and Beaver Dam in Wisconsin up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she played for the Michigan Tech Huskies.

Coach Janelle is new to the Chicago area, moving here after graduating last year with a doctorate in physical therapy from Central Michigan University. She works as a physical therapist in Athletico’s clinic in downtown Evanston.

Her coaching philosophy is pretty simple: Don’t just tell players what they could do better. Reinforce what they’re doing well.

“I want the girls to be able to enjoy the sport and know they are doing stuff right,” she says.

Coach Janelle grew up playing pond hockey with her dad and two older brothers in her hometown of Beloit. When she got older, she joined the Beloit Blades youth hockey club and then the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers. She had her first coaching experience at the young age of 14, as a student coach for Beaver Dam’s U14 girls team. As a college student at Michigan Tech, she was the assistant captain and vice president of the women’s club team.

Janelle mainly plays wing or defense but spent some time in goal when she was younger. One of her best hockey memories is getting one-one-one instruction from Manon Rhéaume, a Canadian Olympian goalie and the first and only woman to ever play in the NHL.

In Evanston, Janelle is assisting Del Morris, the girls varsity head coach and EHSH director. Though plans for future games are up in the air due to COVID-19, she’s encouraging her players to stay positive.

“Even though you’re not able to play games, you’re still able to hang out with your friends four nights a week and do something you love,” she says.

They’re also fortunate to play in the new Robert Crown Center.

“I called my family after my first practice and said ‘This is the nicest place ever,’” she says. “It’s insane. It’s gorgeous.”


Five questions for Janelle Adomeit

Why did you start coaching? I love the sport, I love helping people grow, and I like to get involved in my community.

What is your coaching philosophy? Feedback. Learn from your mistakes, grow in your strengths.

What is your proudest moment as a coach? Seeing new skaters get their first goal.

What advice do you have for parents of hockey players?
A little Vicks under the nose blocks a large majority of bad smells. But in all honesty, make sure they enjoy the game. That is the most important.

What is your favorite hockey team? Player?
Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk



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Support Evanston High School Hockey. Buy a gaiter.
by posted 08/30/2020

Evanston Hockey players didn’t have the opportunity this year to participate in the Evanston Hockey Marathon, our annual fundraiser. With the event on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Evanston High School Hockey has embraced a new way to raise money: By selling face coverings.

EHSH recently received an order of protective neck-and-face gaiters featuring the Evanston Hockey logo. Now, we are asking you to back the high-school program by buying a gaiter and wearing it proudly. The proceeds will support EHSH’s player financial aid program. With your help, we can make the sport of hockey more accessible to Evanston families.

You can purchase a gaiter for $18 ($50 for three) through the Evanston Hockey website by clicking on this link. Feel free to encourage friends and family to buy them, too. We’ll distribute the gaiters at Robert Crown in the near future. Look out for an email with specific times and dates.

Thank you in advance for doing your part to support Evanston High School Hockey and spread the Wildkit pride. Questions? Contact

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Varsity Player Rory Nutkevitch wins Tisdahl Award
by posted 06/23/2020

Rory Nutkevitch

High School Award Winners Announced

They scored goals, broke up plays, stopped shots and set an example for their teammates all season long.

They are the Evanston High School Hockey players who are receiving awards for individual achievement during the 2019-2020 season. Even though the program can't recognize them at a banquet due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is celebrating all of its players and has announced the award winners for its varsity, girls varsity and two junior varsity teams.

“These are the players who scored goals and assists and kept the puck out of the net, but also contributed in the many important ways that don’t show up on the score sheet,” said Hockey Director Del Morris. “They honored the game by out-hustling the competition, supporting their teammates when they needed a lift, and demonstrating the sportsmanship and leadership that every team needs. Congratulations to everyone.”

Al Tisdahl Memorial Award Winner: Rory Nutkevitch
In its 20th year, the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award is Evanston Hockey’s highest honor and recognizes the Wildkits senior who best exemplifies the virtues of the organization. Al Tisdahl, who passed away in 2000, was beloved during his long tenure as president of Evanston Hockey.

“I am so honored to receive the Al Tisdahl Memorial Award,” Nutkevitch said. “Evanston Hockey has been an important part of the last 11 years of my life and, for the past three years, I have loved not only being a player but also being able to give back to the organization by being a mentor to the Mites. I want those kids to love the game as much as I do and to see the positive effects playing hockey can have on their lives. Thank you to everyone who makes Evanston Hockey possible!”

Individual Achievement Awards
Girls Varsity (Head Coach Hannah Bergom, Assistant Coaches Don Howard and Dakota Gaudet)
Leadership and Vision Award: Zoe Durston, Olivia DiPadova, Jennifer Maguire
All-State: Jennifer Maguire
Girls Jamboree: Zoe Durston, Kate Unterseher

Boys JV Grunnah (Head Coach Christian Grunnah, Assistant Coaches Dave Crews and Dakota Gaudet)
Offensive MVP: Titan Mrozik
Defensive MVP: Nick Ghate
Most Improved Player: Wesley Stukenberg
Coaches Award: Will Dunlap
All-Stars: Joseph DiPadova, Luke Flangel, Peter Hansen, Titan Mrozik, Wesley Stukenberg

Boys JV Nauert (Head Coach Zack Nauert, Assistant Coaches Don Howard and Darius Mack)

Offensive MVP: Logan Reynolds
Defensive MVP: Sergio Martinez
Most Improved Player: Oliver Richard
Coaches Award: Drew McDermott
All-Stars: Tyler Bryan, Jonah Gerstein, Henry Levy, Sergio Martinez

Boys Varsity (Head Coach Del Morris, Assistant Coaches Ray Ewing and Jimmy Kahn)
Offensive MVP: Peter Gallun
Defensive MVP: Campbell Wagener
Most Improved Player: Patrick Moffitt
Coaches Award: Aidan Barker and Aidan Kennedy
All-Stars: Owen Destefano, Aidan Kennedy, Joe Levy, Campbell Wagener
Showcase: Aidan Kennedy, Campbell Wagener
All-State: Campbell Wagener 

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Coaches Corner: Q&A and Skills & Drills
by posted 04/18/2020

Hockey Director Del Morris and other Evanston Hockey coaches answer player questions

Coaches Corner: Q&A and Skills & Drills

It’s been a while since we’ve seen our coaches at the rink. They’re stuck home like a lot of us, but they’re still thinking about hockey, even when they’re out of their natural habitat. What’s on their minds? Check out the short videos here.

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14U Girls Nauert Win State Championship
by posted 03/06/2020

14U Girls Nauert Win State Championship

14U Girls Nauert Win State Championship

By Jason Titzer

It wasn’t an expected outcome. An early knockout and third place finish in the state tournament last year meant this year the girls would need to rebuild. Many players from the 2018-19 season moved on to High School and both goalies went on to other programs. With the numbers looking low, Evanston was looking to add more players for the 2019-20 season. And add it did.

Veteran players Molly Ahern, Gabriella Baichwal, Emma Barker, Kenedi Mrozik, Eve Thiry, Abby Thomas and Kylie Titzer welcomed newcomers to the 14U girls team: Kate Broderick, Brynn Clair, Grace Estrada, Paige Hines, Ana Kimball, Jessie Lesage, Rylee Noffsinger, Kayla Podemski and Whitney Race.

Coaches Zach Nauert and Hannah Bergom added extra practices and off-ice workouts for the girls leading up to the season. Their hard work paid off early in the season when the girls traveled to St. Louis and captured a second place finish against some strong competition, including some teams that came from as far away as Kansas City.

The State Championship game saw Evanston pitted against the Chicago Bruins for the fourth time this season -- a team they tied twice and lost to once. The game lived up to expectations with both teams playing to a 0-0 tie at the end of the first. Both teams had many opportunities, but both defenses and goalies were up to the challenge.

With a flurry of traffic in front of the net, Evanston struck in the second with a shot from Emma Barker. End of 2: Evanston 1, Bruins 0.

However, the lead was short lived as the Bruins scored in the third period off of a deflected shot. Both teams battled back and forth, but good defense and goaltending kept the score at 1-1 to end regulation. This game would be decided in overtime.

Evanston controlled most of the play in overtime and again sent traffic in front of the net. Kenedi Mrozik shot from the blue line and Kate Broderick, from her knees, smacked the puck through the five hole for the game winner.

History was made. Evanston's 14U girls team is bringing home a state championship banner to the new Robert Crown. Great efforts all around -- and a title to defend next year. Go Kits!

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North Shore Cup Champs
by posted 03/05/2020

North Shore Cup Championship Game Teams: 10U Grunnah, 10U McGowan, 12U Gaylord

Congratulations to All North Shore Cup Players

Evanston Hockey had a strong showing in the recent end-of-season North Shore Cup, with two teams winning the championship game and other making it as a finalist.

10U Grunnah 

After winning the first two games of the North Shore Cup, 10U Grunnah fought season-long rivals the Ice Dogs to a stalemate in their third game to setup a rematch for the championship.

In a game with multiple momentum changes, the Kits scored in the first and second periods to take a 2-0 lead, before Ice Dogs got on the board and ended the second period 2-1. In an action packed third, Ice Dogs tied the game 2-2 to end regulation.

The Kits never gave up--and showed the grit that has defined this team all year--to battle to a hard-fought scoreless overtime period. The shootout that followed was a strong showing for the Kits where amazing goaltending and spectacular dekes lead to a 2-0 shootout victory for Evanston.

This was a fitting end for 10U Grunnah's season, where these players grew so much as hockey players and as as individuals, and developed sportsmanship and friendships that will last a lifetime. Evanston is right to be proud of this team.

10U McGowan

10U McGowan closed out its season with another North Shore Cup title for the the program. These Kits tallied a 2/1/1 record in the North Shore Cup tournament and avenged a 2-1 loss to Winnetka earlier in the tournament with a 3-2 shootout win in the championship game.

These Kits battled all season playing solid team hockey and rising to each challenge as a team. With a regular season record of 14-5-1, the team won two in-season tournaments and a 2nd place NIHL Championship Banner. Thanks for a great season!

12U Gaylord 

12U Gaylord wrapped up its regular season with a second place finish in the North Shore Cup. The team earned two wins and a tie during the tournament, and faced Wilmette in the championship game, a team they had tied earlier. Way to go Kits!

More Wildkits

Two Evanston Hockey house teams at the 12U and 14U level also brought their game to the North Shore Cup and notched a couple of ties and a big win against the Chargers. Go Kits!

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Evanston High School Hockey Adds Board Members
by posted 03/01/2020

Evanston High School Hockey Board Officers and Members

Evanston High School Hockey Adds Board Members

At its annual meeting, the Evanston High School Hockey board elected officers and new board members for the 2020-21 season. High school board members are volunteers who serve one two-year term that is renewable once. The high school board oversees the Varsity, Junior Varsity and Girls Varsity programs.


Co-Presidents: Dani Barker and Marina Marich
As co-presidents, Barker and Marich preside over the board. They work with Evanston Hockey Director Del Morris and the board to further the organization's mission. Barker and Marich have been on the high school board since its formation in 2019. Barker has a rising sophomore and a rising senior, and Marich has a rising sophomore at Evanston Township High School.

Treasurer: Joe Maguire
As treasurer, Maguire is responsible for the day-to-day management of our non-profit organization’s financial requirements. Maguire has served on the high school board since its formation in 2019. He has a rising senior at Evanston Township High School.

Secretary: Kim DiPadova
As secretary, DiPadova keeps the minutes of the board of director meetings among other work as outlined in the bylaws. DiPadova has served on the high school board since its formation in 2019. She has a rising junior at Evanston Township High School.

Renewed Terms
The board also renewed the term for Sam Bodine, Gary DeStefano, Kim DiPadova and Joe Maguire. Bodine coordinates volunteer opportunities for high school players and has a rising senior. DeStefano is the league representative for the Wildkits and has a rising senior.

New Members
The board also elected the following individuals to the board:

  • Roger Goldberg: Has two rising freshmen at Evanston Township High School
  • Mark Hansen: Has a rising junior at Evanston Township High School
  • Mike Kuhn: Has a rising freshman at Evanston Township High School

As a working board, each new member is expected to take on a specific area of responsibility, which will be determined at an upcoming board meeting. 

Retiring Members
Evanston Hockey would like to thank Carrie Ballard for her service on the high school hockey board. Ballard was elected to the board in 2019, and has been responsible for the girls program.

We will be updating the website with new high school board information in the coming weeks.

Please join us in thanking our volunteer high school board members for their dedication to providing boys and girls in Evanston and neighboring communities the opportunity to play hockey in a diverse program that is rooted in skills development, sportsmanship, outstanding coaching, leadership skills, strong character development and camaraderie.

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Evanston Hockey Youth Board of Directors Adds Members
by posted 03/01/2020

Evanston Hockey Youth Board of Directors Officers and New Members

Evanston Hockey Youth Board of Directors Adds Members

At its annual meeting, the Evanston Hockey youth board of directors elected its officers for the 2020-21 season and elected new board members. Evanston Hockey youth board members are volunteers who serve three-year terms, which can be renewed once.

President: Tim Riley
As president, Riley presides over the board and represents Evanston Hockey at the Amateur Hockey Association-Illinois (AHAI) and Northern Illinois Hockey League (NIHL) meetings. He works with Evanston Hockey Director Del Morris and the board to further the association’s mission. He has been on the board since 2017 and this will be his first season serving as president. He has one son who plays hockey and is moving up to 14U this spring.

Treasurer: Steve Nelson
As treasurer, Nelson is responsible for the day-to-day management of our non-profit organization’s financial requirements. Nelson, an audit supervisor for a government entity, served as treasurer of the Evanston Jr. Wildkits and has been on the youth board since 2018. His son is a 12U player.

Secretary: George Efstathiou
Efstathiou was elected to the board in 2019. As secretary, Efstathiou keeps the minutes of the board of director meetings among other work as outlined in the bylaws. He has two sons who play, a 10U player and an 8U player.

Renewed Terms
The board also renewed the term for Jenny Dillman, Steve Nelson and Tim Riley. Jenny is the chairman of the rules & ethics committee. She has a son who is moving up to 14U this spring.

New Members
The board also elected the following individuals to the board:

  • Lane Howard: Has a 10U player
  • Garry Shumaker: Has a 10U and Big Kits player
  • Matt Simpson: Has a 10U player
  • Chris Steiner: Has two 8U and a 12U player
  • Zach Wotherspoon: Has an 8U player

As a working board, each new member is expected to take on a specific area of responsibility, which will be determined at an upcoming board meeting. 

Retiring Members
Evanston Hockey would like to thank its retiring board members for their years of service on the youth hockey board.

  • Carrie Ballard: Ballard was elected to the board in 2017. She has been responsible for the girls program.
  • Dani Barker: Barker was elected to the board in 2014. She has held the roles of secretary and, most recently, registrar.
  • Parker Colvin: Colvin was elected to the board in 2019. He served as a liaison between the house program and the youth board.
  • Brad Dunlap: Dunlap was elected to the board in 2014. He most recently served as president of the youth board for three seasons. He is a current house coach and has coached travel teams in the past.

We will be updating the website with new youth board information in the coming weeks.

Please join us in thanking our volunteer youth board members for their dedication to providing boys and girls in Evanston and neighboring communities the opportunity to play hockey in a diverse program that is rooted in skills development, sportsmanship, outstanding coaching, leadership skills, strong character development and camaraderie.

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10U McGowan Represents Evanston in NIHL Championship Game
by posted 02/29/2020

10U McGowan Represents Evanston in NIHL Championship Game

10U McGowan Represents Evanston in NIHL Championship Game

By Garry Shumaker

10U McGowan battled to the very end, falling short in the NIHL championship game 2-0 and culminating a superb season with a 2nd place NIHL Silver A finish. These Kits bring home a NIHL banner for the rafters at the new Crown and take with them into next season a camaraderie and selfless spirit that will build on this season's successes.

Championship game nerves may have contributed to these Kits falling into a 2-0 deficit early in the first period, but after settling into the moment, a defensive battle for the ages kept them in the game for 2+ periods of Championship Hockey. Team respect, sportsmanship and spirit of these Kits were on full display for everyone in the area and watching on the live-feed. We could not be more proud of these Kits' commitment to the team and know that will be be better players, teammates and humans for it. 

Thank you to our outstanding coaching staff, parents and super-fans this season! Coaches Dave, Kip and James have given these Kits every opportunity to develop their skills individually and as a team and encouraged above all a love for the game and the life skills it teaches. We could not be more proud of this team.

On to the NorthShore Cup! 

GO KITS, let's add one more banner this season.

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Evanston JV Grunnah Storms to First Place
by posted 02/03/2020

Members of JV Grunnah post after clinching first place and being named regular season champions

Evanston JV Grunnah Storms to First Place

The only thing that stood in the way of a first-place regular season finish for Evanston JV Grunnah was a point on the road against an overmatched Highland Park team in its last regular season game. Any doubts from a slow first period were erased by six Wildkits goals in the second and the team cruised to a 9-1 victory to clinch sole possession of first place and a bye in the first round of the league playoffs.  

Evanston went unbeaten in its final 15 games to finish the season with a 20 - 2 - 2 record while outscoring its opponents 111 - 28. Its only two losses came earlier in the season to the #2 seeded Barrington Broncos and the #3 seeded Warren Blue Devils. 

The team was led by Coaches Christian Grunnah, Dave Crews and Dakota Gaudet. Titan Mrozik finished the regular season as its leading scorer with 29 goals and 14 assists while Wesley Stukenberg was stellar in net with seven shutouts and a .930 save percentage. 

With the first round bye as the #1 seed, Evanston will likely host the winner of the Maine (#8) vs. (Latin #9) matchup. 

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Two Wildkits Invited to America’s Showcase Team Illinois Tryouts
by posted 02/02/2020

Evanston Hockey Varsity players Aidan Kennedy (#19) and Campbell Wagener (#6) have been invited to attend the 2020 USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase Team Illinois tryouts

Two Wildkits Invited to America’s Showcase Team Illinois Tryouts

Evanston Hockey Varsity players Aidan Kennedy, senior, and Campbell Wagener, junior, have been invited to attend the 2020 USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase Team Illinois tryouts.

The event is designed to allow high school hockey players from around the country the opportunity to compete against the best of the best during a four-day period. During the event, the players are exposed to Junior, College and Professional Scouts from throughout the USA and Canada, and have the honor to represent Illinois in the best High School Hockey event in North America.

USA Hockey America’s High School Showcase will take place from April 16-20, 2020, in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

Good luck and congratulations to Aidan and Campbell for being chosen for this prestigious event!

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All-State Team: Two Evanston Hockey Players Named
by posted 02/01/2020

All-State Game Takes Place Feb. 10

Two Evanston Hockey Players Named to 2020 Illinois All-State Team

Evanston Hockey congratulates two players who have been named to the Illinois All-State Team:

  • Jennifer Maguire, forward, junior, Girls Varsity
  • Campbell Wagener, defense, junior, Boys Varsity

For the past 30 years, AHAI has been conducting a High School All-State game for the boys and girls varsity divisions statewide. This year will mark the 31st year of this very special event. The 2020 Boys High School All-State game and the 2020 Girls High School All-State game will be played on Monday, February 10, 2020 at the Edge Ice Arena in Bensenville, Illinois. The Girls game will start at 6:40 p.m. and the Boys game will begin at 8:35 p.m.

The 5th Annual Terry J. Stasica MVP Award will also be given to one player from the Boys game and one player from the Girls game. Each MVP will receive a Terry J. Stasica memorial trophy. All-State players are selected by the votes of the High School Varsity head coaches throughout the State of Illinois.

Mark your calendars now to come watch the best play the best in both the girls and the boys divisions. Can’t make the game? The SHL Network on YouTube Live will be streaming both games with Max Anderson, Taylor Rammelt and the rest of the SHL Network’s great crew!

Congratulations to Jennifer and Campbell, and thanks for representing the Wildkits!

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Another Successful Hockey Day in Evanston
by posted 01/19/2020

Hockey Days in Evanston 2020

Hockey Day in Evanston Showcases New Rink & Supports Player Financial Aid

A big thank you to everyone who helped make Hockey Day in Evanston 2020 the most memorable as the official opening of the new Robert Crown coincided with our biggest event of the year. Together, we raised more than $4,700 to support player financial aid. Way to go!

A heartfelt thanks to all of our sponsors (see full list below), volunteers and families who donated time, goods and money to make this event possible.

Go Kits!

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Evanston Hockey 2020 All-Stars Named
by posted 12/23/2019

Evanston Hockey 2020 All-Stars Named

Evanston Hockey 2020 All-Stars Named

A record number of players and coaches will represent Evanston Hockey at the 2020 All-Star game for the Illinois High School Hockey League North Central Division.

Teams' standings determine how many players are sent from each team. Players are selected based on their leadership, teammates and on-ice play. Coaches also factor in who will represent Evanston with pride, respect and high skill level.

Thirteen players and two coaches will have the honor of playing in the All-Star game and making their Wildkits family proud.

All games take place Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at West Meadows Rink, 3939 Winnetka Ave, Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Admission is free and everyone is welcome!

Champions Varsity: 7:50 p.m.
Owen DeStefano (goalie)
Aidan Kennedy
Joe Levy
Campbell Wagener

JV Champions: 4:30 p.m.
Sergio Martinez
Tyler Bryan
Henry Levy
Jonah Gerstein (goalie)

JV Gold: 2:50 p.m.
Joseph DiPadova
Luke Flangel
Peter Hansen
Titan Mrozik
Wesley Stukenberg (goalie)

JV Champion coach Zack Nauert and JV Gold coach Dave Crews will also be on the benches during their respective team's games.

Be sure to congratulate our All-Stars, and come out to support your Evanston Hockey Wildkits during the All-Star game.

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Wildkits Host Blackhawks Special Hockey Team
by posted 03/17/2019

Evanston Wildkits and members of the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Team during this season's scrimmage

Wildkits Host Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Team

Building on a tradition started last season, Evanston Hockey once again played a scrimmage game with the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey team. The game took place on Saturday, March 16 at Robert Crown Center.

The Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey team is dedicated to providing children and adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to play hockey. The game was also a fundraiser for the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey team, which raised more than $2,000 during the event. This enabled the team to take 37 players -- the most ever -- to Florida for the USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival.

This year's game included 2004 and 2005 birth year players who represented our house, travel and girls programs. We anticipate making this an annual event with current 14U players eligible to participate.

A huge thank you to parent Christine Tepper, who organized the event;  Mike Kuhn, who donated cookies for the raffle and players; and parents Stuart Wick and Brett Barker, who served as referees.

Thanks to everyone who came out and cheered on the Blackhawks!

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Second Annual Coach Classic a Success
by posted 03/17/2019

High school, travel and house coaches participated in the 2019 Coach Classic

Second Annual Coach Classic a Success

Coaches from Evanston Hockey's high school, travel and house programs participated in the second annual Coach Classic on Saturday, March 16 at Robert Crown Center -- and it was great fun all around!

While the blue team took this year's classic 7-4, team white kept it close and will look for revenge next year. Big thanks to parent Stuart Wick, who served as referee.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support our coaches!

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House Playoff Success
by posted 03/03/2019

House Playoff Success

House Playoff Success

14U Orange
By Steve Retzloff

House 14U ended their season in spectacular form by winning the Gold Tier 1 Tournament held at Glenview Ice Area March 2nd through 10th. The Wildkit Bantam team swept the series by winning all four games. Backed by a strong defense performance and spectacular goaltending, the 14Us yielded a total of only three goals in the four games played in the tournament. Although the team struggled during a stretch in the mid-season, the 14U team won when it mattered most. First, by winning all their games in the early year seeding round, the 14Us were able to make it in to the Gold Tier 1 Division. Next, winning enough games in the regular season to earn a spot in the Tier 1 playoff bracket and then sweeping the playoffs for the title. All in all, the 2018/2019 season was a rewarding experience for all involved, including coaches, parents and, most importantly, the players.  

10U Orange
By Parker Colvin

10U Orange finished the season playing some of their best hockey, earning 2nd place in the NSYHL Silver playoffs. Orange played as a team all season with eight different skaters suiting up in net and 11 players notching goals on the year. As skills and team play improved throughout the season, the results were impossible to miss. Season-defining moments came with a thrilling 9-7 win over the eventual Gold-II champions, Twin Rinks #1, as well as some extremely tight, back and forth, rivalry games against Squirt Blue. 10U Orange was led down the stretch by 50 goal-scorer Luke Dickey, defensive anchor Sam Graczyk, two-way hero Caleb Nicholson and playoff goalie, Luke Thomas. Ultimately, this team gelled because of their hard work, unselfish play and genuine kindness to one another.

12U Blue
By Vic Lesage

The girls and boys of the 12U Blue team won the North Shore Championship this season defeating Wilmette 5-2 in the final game. The fast paced game was 2-2 going into the 3rd and the Kits came flying off the bench to score 2 quick goals. Wilmette didn’t know what hit them. It was truly something to see. The team played all season long with a ton of heart. They worked hard. They played hard. And, as momentum built towards the end of the season it all paid off. Every playoff game was a battle, true back and forth hockey, and our “NO QUIT!” mantra kept these kids fighting every single step of the way. Throughout the season, we talked a lot about team play and how each and every skater had a job to do. When you come to the rink be sure to bring your best and good things will happen for not just you but the entire team. And that’s exactly what they did. We are super proud of each and every one of these kids, for their effort, for their comradely, and most importantly for believing in each other that they could end this season in victory. It was truly a team effort. Well done Kits!

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North Shore Cup Champs
by posted 03/02/2019

North Shore Cup Champs

North Shore Cup Champs

10U Kahn
By Garry Shumaker

10U Kahn earned a North Shore Cup championship with a strong team effort. The Kits came to work and never let up in a rematch against a long benched Northbrook team who bested the Kits only two nights prior to the championship in round robin play. The 3-0 championship shutout posted by these Kits is a fitting end to a great season. This team worked hard all year building a foundation of skill and selfless team play, over the course of the season this group earned two tournament championship finals and brings home a 1st place win to close this season. Solid team effort and defense effort from every player on the ice supported a hungry offense that resulted in an overwhelming win against a Northbrook team that out played and out worked our Kits only a few days earlier.

10U Howard
By Jacie Zolna

10U Howard won the North Shore Cup to end the season in a hard fought game against the heavily favored Northbrook Bluehawks. Outmanned and playing a Northbrook team that beat them twice during the regular season, the Wildkits pulled out a gritty 3-2 victory. Leo Zolna got things going for the Wildktis scoring on the first shift of the game to put Evanston up 1-0. Great team defense and goaltending kept Northbrook off the board until well into the second period when a tough goal tied things up at 1-1. Unfazed, the Wildkits answered on the very next shift when Leo Zolna scored his second goal of the game. The remainder of the game was filled with tense moments, strong team play, a successful 5 on 3 penalty kill, and a number of great saves by goaltender Brennan Robbins. Veteran and team captain, Eddie Scanlan, put things away scoring his final goal as a 10U player to ice the game in the third period. It was a true team effort with all players contributing, stellar defense and great coaching. The Kits punched their ticket to the championship game by going 2-1 in the round robin play, falling 5-4 to Winnetka before taking down Wilmette 4-2 and the Ice Dogs 5-1.    

12U Kidd
By Mike Kuhn

12U Kidd caught fire at the right time. Entered in the season ending North Shore Cup tournament they used a balanced attack, good defense and hot goaltending to finish the tournament 5-0. They out scored their opponents 22-5. The championship game was a rematch against Northbrook. The two teams played Sunday for the right to go to the final. On Sunday the Kits maintained a 1-0 lead late in the contest. They chipped in an empty net goal to seal the 2-0 win. On Monday, Northbrook came out with speed and determination on their home ice. They raced out to a 2-0 lead by the end if the first period. The Kits were in the game, they held a solid 2-1 advantage in shots. They just needed to break through. The good guys did exactly that with 8 1/2 minutes to go in the second period. Then came a pivotal 2 minute stretch. With a Kit forward in the penalty box the Wilkits scored 2 short handed goals during the same penalty kill. They were able to get an insurance goal with just over 2 minutes left in the game to seal the 5-3 win. Lots of glove tossing and team hugs ensued. Fitting of the way the tournament went the game featured goals by 5 different skaters. The goalies shared the net in the final, with both making great saves at key times.

Congratulations to our players, coaches, fans and parents who supported, cheered and transported our teams all season.

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Varsity Earns IHSHL North-Central League’s Gold Championship
by posted 02/19/2019

Varsity Earns IHSHL North-Central League’s Gold Championship

Varsity Earns IHSHL North-Central League’s Gold Championship

The Evanston varsity found itself behind by three goals late in a state playoff game on Sunday, but a comeback didn’t seem entirely crazy considering what happened three nights before.
In that game, the Kits erased a 0-3 deficit with less than four minutes left in the third period, stunning their opponent, Lake Zurich Mundelein Wauconda, when they punched in the tying goal with five seconds left. After a scoreless overtime period, the Kits prevailed in a shootout and advanced to the championship game in the IHSHL’s North-Central League’s Gold Division.
The varsity followed up that dramatic victory with a 2-1 win over Warren on Saturday night, claiming the Gold championship banner and adding to the Kits’ strong post-season momentum.
But the team still had some unfinished business: the state playoffs. After handily beating Fenwick and Naperville North in the first two rounds, the varsity team, which was seeded 32nd, had reason to feel confident Sunday night, when it hosted a surging Marmion Academy team from Aurora, seeded 33rd, at the Robert Crown Center. The winner would advance to the round of 16 versus St. Ignatius College Prep.
The Kits struck first, but Marmion answered with four straight goals. Evanston controlled the play for extended stretches, making another comeback seem possible, even in the third period. But a three-goal deficit proved too much for the Kits this time around. Evanston couldn’t overcome a hot goaltender for the Cadets, losing 5-1 after an empty netter and ending their 2018-2019 season.
Still, the varsity team’s strong post-season performance should add to the team’s confidence next year. The Kits will lose some key contributors and leaders to graduation, but as many as 15 of the 21 players on its current roster are eligible to return next fall.


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National Tournament Features Wildkits
by posted 04/04/2018

Clockwise from top left: Sophie Berghammer, Deanna Buenzow, Luiza Santos, Maya Ballard, Zoe Durston, Molly Jo Krupkin, Bradley Bellios

USA Hockey National Youth Tournament Features Wildkits

There may be no playoffs for the Blackhawks this season, but there’s plenty of post-season hockey to watch that includes a special group of Evanston Hockey players.

Several current and past Wildkits girls players are competing in the USA Hockey Youth Nationals tournament that starts this weekend, April 5-7 (see below for link to schedule and to watch the games).

Current Evanston Girls High School players Maya Ballard and Sophie Berghammer are double-rostered on the Chicago Young Americans AAA girls 14U team along with past Wildkits players Deanna Buenzow and Luiza Santos. Zoe Durston who double-rosters on the Evanston Girls High School team also plays on a girls 16U Falcons joined by former Wildkits player Stephanie Smith. Two other former Wildkits, Bradley Bellios and Molly Jo Krupkin play for the all-girls North Shore Warhawks.

The players credit Evanston Hockey and our coaches for helping them develop skills that have taken their games to the next level. Several donned the “C” or “A” for their respective mixed-gender Wildkits teams.

“I talked to every coach I could about how to improve my skills – and I spent as much time on the ice as I could,” Ballard has previously said. “[Evanston] is a great organization with great coaches and kids.”

A ninth grader, Ballard was a member of the first-ever girls 14U team during the 2016-17 season and continues to play for the Wildkits on the Girls High School team along with Berghammer and Durston.

“One of my favorite memories of Evanston Hockey is when I was the only girl on my 14U (Bantam) team, and I totally deked a boy on a play,” Durston said. “Coach Sam [Bodine] was like ‘Was that Durston?’, which was awesome because he treated me like any other member of the team, not like I was the ‘girl’ on the team.”

Durston started playing hockey in fifth grade. She and her sister Margot were members of the inaugural girls U14 team, along with Smith who now attends Loyola Academy. The Durstons play together on the Evanston Girls High School team.

Fellow high school player Berghammer started with “learn to skate” and “hockey skills” classes at Robert Crown as a kindergartener and then played on Evanston Hockey house and travel teams. She’s currently in ninth grade, and her favorite memories are those of traveling to away tournaments, especially with the girls 14U team.

Buenzow and Santos, who are both current eighth graders, played travel hockey for the Wildkits through second-year 10U (squirt).

With the Wildkits, Buenzow had the added benefit of playing with her older brother, Matthew, and says that winning the Wisconsin Dells tournament with him on the ice with her was a highlight.

Santos fondly remembers winning the Holland Tournament during her second-year 10U (squirt) season with Evanston Hockey, especially hanging out at the hotel with her teammates. She hopes to play again for the Wildkits next season as part of the Evanston Girls High School team.

Bellios and Krupkin played with Evanston through sixth grade before switching to an all-girls team. The ninth graders' favorite memories playing for the Wildkits come from a shoot out game where both girls scored.

The USA Hockey Youth Nationals games take place this weekend, April 5-7, in Marlborough, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, and will be webcast for those who’d like to watch: https://usahockey.hockeytv.com/#/

The game schedule for all games can be found here: https://nationals.usahockey.com/2018

Let’s hope these current and alum Wildkits keep making memories. Good luck from the Wildkits!


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Stinky Boots and Game Sweaters: Post-Game Traditions
by posted 01/13/2018

The "stinky boot" ranks among the more creative post-game traditions by Coach Jimmy Kahn

Stinky Boots and Game Sweaters: Post-Game Traditions

In hockey, there is no shortage of traditions. Player handshakes after every game. Tossing hats onto the ice after a hat trick. Lifting a stick to acknowledge the crowd. Playoff beards.

Among the most memorable for players, however, is the post-game object that’s handed out to that game’s most deserving player. Everyone in Chicago knows about the championship belt the Blackhawks passed around during their 2010 Stanley Cup run. Hats and shovels have also made an appearance during other NHL teams’ post-game interviews.

It’s a tradition that virtually all teams – from the pros to youth teams – continue to this day. The same is true for Evanston Hockey.

So, it got us thinking: what objects do Evanston Hockey coaches hand out and why? Not surprising, there are some creative ones in this bunch. Read on to learn more.

Stinky Boot
Perhaps you have seen a work boot lying around the rink and wondered what it’s doing there. It’s Coach Jimmy Kahn’s “work boot,” that’s given to the hardest working players of the game or to reward things the coaches have been emphasizing that game, week or month. And, yes, that boot is legit. “I worked in them every day from when I bought them around 2001 until a few years ago,” Coach Jimmy said. One boot goes to one of his 10U (squirt) team 1 players and the other is with a 14U (bantam) team 1 player.

Sweater Time
Most youth jerseys are relegated to backs of closets or parent’s basements. But Coach Deon Kidd found a great way to resurrect his jerseys to recognize offensive play and hard work for his 12U (peewee) 3 team.

His junior jersey from his year with the Boulder Bison goes to the player who creates active team play with assists and goals. His jersey from the year he played pro for the Hannover Scorpions is known as the hardworking jersey. He wants to recognize hard work because he knows what it means to put in the extra effort. “I always had to put in the extra time on the ice and off the ice to achieve my dream,” Coach Deon said. He added that he likes the idea of handing out a post-game item – which wasn’t common on his European teams – because “it is a great method to bring the team together and teach life lessons of speaking up and making a big decision.”

The Belt
Dave Crews introduced a traveling championship wrestling belt for his 12U (peewee) 1 team. It’s given to the player who worked hardest during the game and the recipient is decided by the previous “champion” from the game prior.

The 10U (squirt) 2 team also hands out a WWE wrestling belt to the player with the biggest impact or effort in a game. The previous winner also passes it on to the net player and says something about their teammate’s play during the game. Assistant Coach Greg Sprenzel explains that the team has started a chanting tradition of “Put it on! Put it on!” once the belt is handed off. The player who receives the belt has to wear it over their shoulder when they exit the locker room. But players better not forget the belt for the next game. If they forget it, they have the same punishment as forgetting a piece of equipment.

Game Puck
From the earliest ages, a game puck brings pure joy to budding hockey players and fans. Coach Jimmy and Coach Tim Riley look to hand out a game puck to the player who exhibits the most offensive skills during a game. Although Coach Jimmy’s favorite games are team wins when everyone contributes and the coaches can’t identify only one or two players to recognize.

Coach Greg was a recipient of a few game pucks during his youth hockey days and said, “It was great to be recognized for my effort and hustle with an item that I could use to remember and reflect on how well I played that game.”

Perhaps the most poignant story of handing out a game puck has to go to veteran Coach Don Howard. One season, he had a large team of 20 players, many of them new to hockey. He said that the newer players figured they had almost no chance at a game puck, while there were a few strong players who deserved them daily.

After one game toward the end of the season, one of the newer players who struggled during the season made a few strong plays that stood out. Coach Don said that this player didn’t score a goal, didn’t make a pass for a goal, didn’t forecheck or backcheck at a pivotal moment but he did grow as a player and got better. He then handed the puck to the player who jumped up and was amazed.

“Those ten seconds are up near the top of the 20 years, 100 teams, 1,000 games in my special moments coaching,” Coach Don said.

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Evanston Hockey Awarded NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Grant
by posted 10/19/2017

Evanston Hockey Awarded NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Grant

Evanston Hockey Awarded NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Grant

Evanston Hockey has once again been named an NHL Hockey is for Everyone grant recipient. Hockey is for Everyone grants support programs that provide opportunities for youth participants in underserved or marginalized communities, helping them develop important life skills that transcend the game.

"Hockey is a powerful force that helps young people build character, foster positive values and develop important life skills,” said Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner. “As a Hockey is for Everyone program, Evanston Youth Hockey Association provides a supportive and inclusive environment where boys and girls can make friends, get active and become a great teammate on and off the ice."

Evanston Hockey has been a leader in the area of diversity since the 1960s and it is an honor for the National Hockey League to recognize our program. We are proud to receive this distinction and we take seriously our mission to provide boys and girls in Evanston and neighboring communities the opportunity to learn to play hockey in a diverse program that is rooted in skills development, sportsmanship, outstanding coaching, leadership skills, strong character development and camaraderie.
As a Hockey is for Everyone partner, Evanston Hockey receives a 15% off promotional discount on Shop.NHL.com. You can take advantage of the discount by using code HIFE9 (one-time use, valid through December 1).

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After 50 Years, It's All Still About Hockey
by posted 02/22/2017

Evanston Hockey Travel Team in the 1960s

After 50 Years, It’s All Still About Hockey

When Dean Mathewson had hockey practice, he’d walk around the corner from his house in southwest Evanston to his home rink in Larimer Park. Fashion accessories for his team included garter belts and awkward mouth protectors that made players look like young Hannibal Lecters in training. And if Mathewson wanted a curve on his wooden stick, he often had to make it himself, heating the blade up in boiling water and then bending it between the pipes of a radiator.

“That’s how everybody was doing it, when they couldn’t buy the pre-made ones,” he says.

It was the late 1960s, the Evanston Boys Hockey Association—co-founded by his father, Donald Mathewson, a flour salesman from Minnesota—was in its infancy, and the Robert Crown Center was still just a dream. The toe drag or spin-o-rama had yet to be invented. The butterfly? Not in Evanston in January. Goalies stacked the pads to stop pucks.

The game of hockey, its culture and technology have changed dramatically over the past half century, and the club that became the Evanston Youth Hockey Association has too. It now has so many house and travel teams that it’s outgrowing Robert Crown, which opened in 1975. This winter season, 341 kids are playing for Evanston house and travel teams, up 43 percent from just three years ago.

Over the years, the club has fielded countless winning teams—the Evanston varsity team won back-to-back state championships in the mid-1970s—attracted more girls to the program and groomed players for college careers, a goal of the association from its earliest days. 

Until Robert Crown opened, the association’s home ice was an outdoor rink next to Dyche Stadium, now Ryan Field. But house league teams generally practiced and played their games at rinks in Larimer, Bent, Leahy and other parks. Mathewson remembers city officials looking the other way as neighborhood volunteers opened up fire hydrants on a cold night to flood Larimer Park, at Crain Street and Oak Avenue.

“There was a lot of winking and nodding,” he says. 

The rink had no boards, but it had a warming hut with a fire pit inside. At some parks, parents would park their cars next to the rinks with their headlights on, so their kids could play in the dark, recalls Andy Pigozzi, who played for Evanston in the 1970s and 1980s. But a lot of the time, the neighborhood rinks offered an opportunity for plenty of pick-up hockey away from the supervision of coaches or parents.

“You’d play until you’d drop,” Pigozzi says. 

The association fielded all-star teams—the equivalent of today’s travel teams—that would play other clubs and go to tournaments. The house teams were neighborhood-based: If you lived near Bent Park, you played for the Bent Park team. The Larimer teams that Mathewson played on were a melting pot, with African-American and Hispanic players and kids from various nationalities, he says. 

Initially, the players would raise money for the club by selling Evanston Boys Hockey Association window decals for $1. Later, the club would hold annual pizza day fundraisers.

The hockey association took a big leap forward with the 1975 opening of Robert Crown, which the City of Evanston built for $2.5 million. With the growing popularity of hockey, the indoor facility, which has a full-sized and studio rink, was part of 1970s building wave that included the Winnetka Ice Arena and Centennial Ice Rink in Wilmette.  

Support for the Evanston project wasn’t universal: Calling the building “The Ice Palace,” Alderman Thomas Brinkmann argued that it mainly served rich families, and that the money would have been better spent on a roller-skating rink or swimming pool for “the masses.” Yet the city scored a coup when it recruited retired Chicago Blackhawk Eric Nesterenko to run its hockey program. 

Robert Crown “was awesome when it first opened,” says Pigozzi, who played on the first team to practice there. “It’s amazing it’s lasted as long as it has.”

The club has undergone ups and downs since then, with participation ebbing and flowing and teams that both dominated the competition and struggled to compete. Sean Ahern, father of an Evanston Squirt and Mite, doesn’t remember winning too much when he played in the 1970s and 1980s.

“We always liked to go to the Saddle & Cycle Club (in Chicago), because we were always guaranteed a win, and the parents were guaranteed a stiff drink,” he says. 
Del Morris, the club’s current hockey director, remembers the organization being able to field a travel team at each age level when he played for Evanston from 1985 to 1999. His sophomore year, he was goalie on a varsity team that took third in state.  

The club struggled after 2000, as the number of players dwindled. One year, it didn’t have enough players to form a Mite travel team, recalls Bob Nauert, a former EYHA board member and president. To fill out its high school roster, the association had to draw kids from outside Evanston for a period. 

“We never thought we would fold, but we had doubts about how many teams we could field,” he says.

The concern now is how to find enough ice time for all the club’s teams, a big impetus for the proposed new Robert Crown Center, which could have two full sheets of ice. Today, Evanston has two Bantam travel teams and three travel teams at both PeeWee and Squirt level. It also has a girls U-14 team, two house each teams at Bantam, PeeWee and Squirt level and four at the Mite level. The Evanston Junior Wildkits, which runs the Evanston Mite travel program, has two teams.

Both Morris and Nauert cite the success and popularity of the Blackhawks as a key factor driving the EYHA’s recent strong growth. Wherever the club goes from here, it will continue to be a place where young players forge strong friendships and learn important life lessons, just as Mathewson and his teammates did. 

“Hockey requires a great amount of concentration and self-discipline,” former EBHA President David Rodelius told the Evanston Review in 1968. “Someone is always badgering you into losing your temper so you will make a mistake. The boys learn to master themselves as they play the game.”

Even after 50 years, maybe the sport hasn’t changed all that much. 

Click here for photos over the years.

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